Friday, December 10, 2010

Waiting in the Wings

Andrew Kennedy

Who are the top graduating players Columbia needs to worry about replacing next season and who’s in line to replace them?

Let’s focus today on the three seniors who were 1st Team All Ivy:

TE Andrew Kennedy

Kennedy was one of the most prolific receiving tight ends in recent Columbia history. His knack for the end zone was especially impressive and will be the hardest to replace next season.

Only one upperclassman, rising senior Rafael Lopez, is among the crew of returning tight ends. But we heard a lot of good buzz about rising sophomore Chris Mooney, and he even got into some varsity games this year.

At 6-foot-5, it’s hard to rule out Hamilton Garner in this race.

LB Alex Gross

Replacing co-captain Alex Gross isn’t just a matter of stats like total tackles and passes defensed. The Lions will need another player to step up and fill the emotional leadership role Gross played on and off the field.

But as far as rising young linebackers goes, rising sophomore Zach Olinger made a big splash as a frosh this season, especially in the Yale game in week 7.

I also look for rising senior Nick Mistretta to take a leadership role, at least among the linebackers in 2011.

But someone other than Zach and Nick has to step up since the Lions are also losing senior co-captain Matt Moretto on graduation day.

We may well need to see the re-emergence of rising senior Evan Miller, who filled in very nicely in emergency injury duty in 2009 after Gross went down.

Rising junior Ryan Murphy is officially a linebacker, but he continues to mostly play in the role of a pass rushing specialist defensive end.

And could there be a chance for rising sophomore Brian East, who impressed me with his play in high school?

CB Calvin Otis and S Adam Mehrer

I know Otis was a 1st Teamer and Mehrer was an honorable mention All Ivy, but they’re both graduating and losing them presents a serious challenge for the entire secondary.

The best news is that rising seniors like A.J. Maddox, Kalasi Huggins, Neil Schuster, and Ross Morand have a great deal of playing experience. Maddox and Huggins are starters and Schuster and Morand have been impact players in a handful of games in their careers so far.

Rising junior Stephen Grassa got onto the field very often this season and seems like a potential star in waiting.

That’s five players with great experience and skill all learning more under the tutelage of the great secondary coach John Gutekunst.

Not bad.


At Fri Dec 10, 11:39:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based upon yesterday's comments, putting together an All Time All Ivy team of guys who did not win the Bushnell might be a fun project on a slow news day. :)

At Sun Dec 12, 12:03:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The big unknown for next year is Owen Fraser. When he was a freshman I thought he would be a three time all Ivy tackle. If he comes back strong, we have a dominating inside presence.

At Mon Dec 13, 08:31:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one position about which I am concerned is LB. Gross had a disproportionate number of tackles--this reflected his outstanding play but, unfortunately, also less than stellar play on the part of the other LBs. Then, we lose not only Gross but also the other two players who were starting by the end of the year, Moretto and Augie Williams.

For whatever reason (LB play is more instinctual?), it seems easier for a first year to come in and play LB than most other positions. Hope we do very well recruiting this year.

At Tue Dec 14, 03:01:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Dr. V's comments on the LB position: We are actually small at the LB position. As a result, and because our DL doesn't create enough mayhem at the line of scrimmage, a lot of our tackles by our LBs are 4 or 5 yards behing the line of scrimmage. So it is deceptive just to look at numbers of tackles by a LB to assess effectiveness. to take this to an extreme, 5 years ago, Tad Crawford from the safety position led the team and the league in tackles. Most people thought that was great stuff. I thought it was disaster, because those tackles were being made 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. If a small LB is fast and strong he can compensate somewhat, but if the DL isn't doing the job, then you need those 6'3" 240 pound sledgehammers to stop the ball carrier for a short or no gain.


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